Concrete Innovation Must Lay the Foundation for Australia to Reach Net-Zero
Without a dramatic reduction in emissions from concrete production, Australia will fall short of reaching their Net-Zero plan. Australia has excellent abilities to reduce emissions in this area, the main challenge will be creating the environment and framework to reach the target.
Currently, the Victorian Government’s Office of Projects Victoria (OPV) has partnered with The University of Queensland and RMIT University to investigate and implement new applications of domestic and industrial waste materials in the concrete construction industry.
They will be testing additional and different ‘cementitious’ materials that are envisioned to replace the most carbon-concentrated part of the concrete production process, which is the manufacturing of Portland cement.
Australia’s concrete and cement industry has reduced CO2 emissions by 25% since 2000. Holding strong knowledge behind geopolymer concretes, which use industrial waste such as fly ash and slag in place of cement, solving a waste and carbon challenge all at once.
In 2021, the Cement Industry Federation, Cement Concrete & Aggregates Australia and SmartCrete CRC issued the independent report ‘Decarbonisation Pathways for the Australian Cement and Concrete Sector’, capturing the entire Australian cement and concrete value chain.
It outlined eight pathways for the industry to lower its CO2 emissions and to decarbonise by 2050. They were:
1.Zero emission electricity and transport
2.Innovation through design and construction
3.Continue to further innovate concrete
4.Use of supplementary cementitious materials in concrete
5.New CO2-efficient cements
6.Use alternative fuels and green hydrogen
7.Account for concrete to take up CO2
8.Capturing remaining CO2.
Many of the required parts are already in place to take Australia on the journey to zero-emission concrete, and to enjoy the economic benefits of leadership in what will be a vital solution globally.
There are also new standards released in May 2023 – a Technical Specification that outlines requirements and provide guidance for the design and construction of geopolymer concrete and alkali-activated binder concrete building structures.
It is hoped such standards will encourage engineers and construction businesses to bring such products into their designs more often.
Meeting Australia’s Net-Zero goal is unquestionably achievable. It will require further efforts and substantial regulatory, technological, structural and collaboration across all industries.